Platforms: PC, Xbox 360,
PS3, Wii, 3DS
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Black Box
One of the oldest still-going franchises when it comes to videogames, racing-games in particular, make its 18th installment with Need for Speed: The run, released November 15th 2011 for the PC.
For racing game enthusiasts the Need for Speed series is hardly unknown. The first title came out for the PC all the way back in 1995, simply named “The Need for Speed”. Since then roughly one new title has been released every year, and almost all gaming platforms has seen at least one NFS game. Unfortunately, the Need for Speed series hasn’t always delivered a quality experience. I have at least tried all titles released for the PC (which is basically all of them) and it’s safe to say that they’re not all great games. I wouldn’t recommend NFS to those who prefer hardcore driving-simulation, as it focuses more on arcade-style racing. Even if there are some titles in the series that tend slightly towards more realistic racing (i.e. NFS: ProStreet, NFS: Shift), these will probably not still the cravings of a gamer that’s looking for that realistic experience you get from games such as Gran Turismo or the Colin McRae series. Still, if you’re just looking for racing that doesn’t demand that much effort and is great fun, then the NFS franchise definitely has something to offer. And Need for Speed: The Run is no exception.
The developer EA Black Box worked on this title for three whole years, which is a much longer development cycle than NFS games are usually allowed. This was probably due to the fact that their previous installment in the series, Need for Speed: Undercover, received poor ratings all over, and they wanted to make up for that with The Run. And it seems like that time was well spent, because Need for Speed: The Run is definitely a great arcade-racer. It’s an action packed game that manages to pump up your adrenaline quite well from time to time. There’s a good feeling of speed in the game, and in order to beat your opponents you’ll have to drive insanely fast, sometimes through very narrow alleys and difficult turns on the inner-city tracks. When taking the race to the big highways, speed limits seem like something that only exists in fantasy, and it’s only here you’ll be able to reach the top speeds. Focusing more on the pure fun of driving, and not as much on the realistic part of it, The Run gives you an action experience that not many other racing games offer.
The storyline in The Run isn’t much to brag about. But hey, it’s a racing game. The story in racing games is generally very poor if there at all. It’s usually a case of finish first and just move on to the next track. With that in mind, I have to admit that the story in The Run is at least quite decent – for a racing game. You take on the role as Jackson “Jack” Rourke, a highly skilled driver that after getting on the bad side with a crime syndicate decides to partake in a huge illegal underground race called “The Run”. The price money of $25.000.000 will be enough for Jack to pay his debt and buy his freedom, but to claim them he needs to finish first of 200 drivers. The race is quite long, as it stretches across the United States from San Francisco to New York City. And, as if Jack wasn’t in enough trouble, he is also indebted to the police. They are, on top of the syndicate (yes, the syndicate is racing as well), also quite determined not to let him finish the race.
One would think that a race all the way across America would take quite a long time, even at high speeds. Surprisingly, that is not the case in The Run, which is also its biggest flaw. If you’re in a rush you’ll have no problem finishing the single player game in one go. It’s actually over so fast that you somehow feel… tricked, like “Was that it..?”. For a game that’s been in development for three years to have this short of a “campaign” is quite disappointing. But to be fair; even if the game is short, what it has to offer while it lasts is definitely worth the few hours it takes to get through.
The graphics in racing games are usually good, and that’s also the case with The Run. It uses the Frostbite 2 engine, most known for powering the stunningly beautiful Battlefield 3, and now proves that it also works very well with racing games. Everything about the visuals are great; textures on cars and environment, light and shadows, weather conditions, and physics (even though they are not that realistic). The sound is kind of similar to other racing games, with licensed music by known artist’s in-game and the usual techno jams in the menus. Sound effects are good, basically what you expect from a racing game.
On to the summary; Need for Speed: The Run offers a decent, but short, racing experience. Police car-chases and avalanche getaways are great fun, and The Run is definitely one of the better games in the NFS series. If you’re looking for serious racing (serious as in simulation) this is probably not the game for you – but action and adrenaline junkies will not be disappointed!
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